Over the past week we’ve been reminded of the cold facts surrounding men’s mental health in the 2021 Know Your Man Facts series.
In the lead up to International Men’s Day on Friday, November 19, we have stated that:
#2 1 in 2 men will have a mental health disorder in their lifetime
#3 Men not in the workforce have 4 x the risk of depression
#4 Separated men have 6 x the risk of depression
#5 Men who lack close friends have twice the risk of suicidal thoughts
Today, we’re going to look at some of the actions we can all take to help us stay mentally strong and healthy.
Firstly, it’s a fact that maintaining a healthy body can help you stay mentally healthy.
Good health is about developing, changing and maintaining healthy habits.
In her book Changing Habits, Changing Lives, Melbourne-based nutritionist Cyndi O’Meara, encourages people to concentrate on shifting one habit each week, in order to make it manageable and sustainable.
“An unhealthy lifestyle is merely a series of unhealthy habits,” she says. “To adopt a healthy lifestyle you need to change those habits.”
Some key habits to look at are:
Be A Better Eater
A simple way to better mental and physical health is to eat better. Move towards the foods that have not been packaged, that come out of the ground, that don’t have a beating heart. There’s lots of information to back up your choices but here’s some Do’s for starters from healthyweight.health.gov.au
Be A healthy Weight
Being a healthy weight can help you live longer, reduce your chances of developing chronic disease and help combat anxiety, depression and sleep issues. You can find out if you are at a healthy weight with the BMI calculator.
Be Someone Who Exercises
Exercise is equally important and can be increased as fitness levels rise, but the recommended base level of movement is 30 minutes a day, which can be split into smaller bursts of 15 minute blocks. Daily exercise has astonishing benefits for the body and mind. It stimulates chemicals that improve your mood and enhances your focus and memory. It helps reduce the likelihood of heart disease, breast and colon cancers, and diabetes.
Be Someone Who Drinks Moderately (or Not At All)
The Australian guidelines recommend you have at least two alcohol free days a week, no more than four standard drinks a day and no more than 10 standard drinks a week. Turning to drugs and alcohol for anxiety and depression actually worsens the anxiety and depression. Alcohol compromises energy levels, sleep patterns and memory. The physical impact includes high blood pressure, heart disease, brain damage, liver disease, various kinds of cancer, weight gain.
Be Someone Who Doesn't Smoke
The harm caused by smoking has been well documented and yet latest data from the National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NHS) estimated 11.6% of adults smoked daily in 2019. Tobacco smoking is the leading cause of preventable disease and death in Australia, however once the habit of smoking is established it can be extremely hard to kick, harder than using cocaine or opiates like heroin, says the American Cancer Society.
“Withdrawal is both physical and mental. Physically, your body is reacting to the absence of nicotine. Mentally, you are faced with giving up a habit, which calls for a major change in behavior.”
The good news is, smoking rates continue to drop, despite extreme efforts by the tobacco industry to market their product as exciting, glamorous and safe.
As the initial symptoms of withdrawal subside, the non-smoker will enjoy heightened feelings of wellbeing, stress levels will be lower, increasing fitness will become easier, fertility levels will improve, you will save thousands of dollars and within two to five years, your risk of heart disease will have dropped significantly.
Find out more: What to expect when you quit smoking (Betterhealth Channel)
These are five key factors to maintaining a healthy body.
What small changes can you make in each area, knowing that every action will have ramifications for your mental health?
Know Your Man Facts
The Australian Men’s Health Forum developed the Know Your Man Facts campaign on Men’s Mental Health to bring more awareness to key issues about men’s mental health.
In a tailor-made presentation for International Men’s Day 2021, KYMF looks at some of the actions you can take to stay mentally healthy, how you can help others and maybe even save someone’s life.
Also in this series:
Read: The facts about men's mental health: No.1 - 75% of suicides are male (Australian Men's Health Forum)
Read: The facts about men’s mental health: No.2: Out of Order
Read: The facts about men’s mental health: No.3 Men at Work
Read: The facts about men’s mental health: No.4 Home Alone
Read: The facts about men’s mental health: No.5 You Gotta Have Friends
If you would like to learn more about this topic and give a Know Your Man Facts presentation on men’s mental health, please email your request to [email protected]
You can access all other resources to share across your networks here.
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